Norway researchers develop lifesaving methanol poisoning test / News / The Foreigner

Norway researchers develop lifesaving methanol poisoning test. Senior doctors at Oslo University Hospital’s Ullevål facility say their inexpensive and reliable method makes diagnosing the condition much simpler, faster, and can be used worldwide. Methanol poisoning is potentially fatal and affects thousands of people annually. Those who survive are often left blind, can experience seizures, convulsions, go into a coma, and suffer debilitating brain injuries. Other symptoms include breathing difficulty/no breathing, liver function problems, inflammation of the pancreas, and severe abdominal pain.Lethal

norwaymedicine, methanolpoisoning, researchnorway



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Norway researchers develop lifesaving methanol poisoning test

Published on Thursday, 16th January, 2014 at 07:07 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 16th January 2014 at 09:10.

Senior doctors at Oslo University Hospital’s Ullevål facility say their inexpensive and reliable method makes diagnosing the condition much simpler, faster, and can be used worldwide.

Ullevål University Hospital
Methanol poisoning is not a frequent problem in Norway, but many outbreaks abroad are never detected as diagnosis is difficult.Ullevål University Hospital
Photo: Mahlum/Wikimedia Commons


Methanol poisoning is potentially fatal and affects thousands of people annually. Those who survive are often left blind, can experience seizures, convulsions, go into a coma, and suffer debilitating brain injuries.

Other symptoms include breathing difficulty/no breathing, liver function problems, inflammation of the pancreas, and severe abdominal pain.

Lethal

2002 saw an outbreak of methanol poisoning in Norway. 18 people died after they drank spirits containing the substance. Five Portuguese nationals were charged, but found not guilty.

One man in his ‘40s was admitted to Ullevål Hospital with methanol poisoning in November 2009. Three men were admitted to two separate Norwegian hospitals the following month. The 58-year-old from Eidskog in Hedmark County subsequently died.

Abroad, hospitals in Libya received more than 1,000 patients with methanol poisoning over the course of about five days in March last year. The outbreak, caused by people drinking illegal homemade alcohol, left at least 101 people in Tripoli dead.

Another wave occurred in the Czech Republic in 2012/2013, causing the death of 38 people. 50 others developed serious health problems.

Few and far between

Methanol (also known as methyl alcohol) is colourless, often used in anti-freeze, and an alternative transport fuel. Effective methanol poisoning treatment methods include using an antidote in the form of fomepizol or ethanol.

Norway only has a few hospital laboratories that analyse levels of formic acid and/or methanol in the blood. Access to these methods is even more limited abroad.

Ullevål University Hospital’s Doctors Knut Erik Hovda, Gaut Gadeholt, and Dag Jacobsen, who came up with the new method, add that “it’s worst of all in countries where methanol poisoning occurs most often.”

Moreover, it also often takes a long time to get the results back. Whilst methanol poisoning is not a frequent problem in Norway, many outbreaks abroad are never detected. This is because the cause of death is often unknown, and diagnosis difficult.

“Patients are often unconscious and the non-specific symptoms can resemble symptoms of other poisonings, a heart attack, stroke, or blood poisoning, for example,” state the doctors.

Straightforward

In response to the need, they have developed a new test using a strip of paper and enzyme. It employs the same technology as used to test blood sugar levels, but indicates if the patient has a certain amount of formic acid in their blood. One drop will cause the paper to change colour after a few minutes.

“If a human ingests methanol, this is converted to formic acid in the blood, and that’s what’s toxic. The simplest and best way to diagnose methanol poisoning is to detect formic acid in the patient's blood,” the doctors conclude.

The prize-winning project was developed in close cooperation with company Inven2. The innovation firm is owned by the University of Oslo (UiO) and Oslo University Hospital.



Published on Thursday, 16th January, 2014 at 07:07 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 16th January 2014 at 09:10.

This post has the following tags: norwaymedicine, methanolpoisoning, researchnorway.


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